Chris Watt, Christian Lombard making the most of spring training
By SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media March 28, 2012 8:42PM
SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 13: Star Lotulelei #92 of the Utah Utes rushes against Chris Watt #66 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on November 13, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Utah 28-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Star Lotulelei; Chris Watt
Updated: April 30, 2012 9:47AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame might be stripping down its offense this spring to pick a starting quarterback from among Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and Gunner Kiel.
But that doesn’t mean other members of the offense haven’t benefitted from the Irish’s back-to-basics approach.
“We’re not running a lot of plays right now, so it really helps to be able to see all the different looks because the defense is still going,” junior left guard and Glenbard West graduate Chris Watt said. “So we’re seeing all these different looks with every play that we have in right now.”
Watt, who started this past fall for the Irish, has maintained a different approach to spring practice this year.
Secure in his place on the first team, Watt is less concerned with impressing the coaching staff and more concerned with working on his deficiencies from last season.
“Last year, I felt like if I were to mess up on a play, I might hang my head a little bit, especially when you’re in a competition,” Watt said. “So just move forward, next play get right after it, get right back up and get after that defensive lineman or linebacker.”
That’s a philosophy Watt will certainly try to get through to former Fremd standout Christian Lombard.
Lombard, a sophomore who served as an understudy to Taylor Dever at left tackle last season, is looking to crack the starting lineup for the first time and finds himself in the middle of two position races this spring.
New offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who coached the Bears’ offensive line from 2005 to ’09, also has given Lombard reps at guard.
At 6-5, Lombard has the ability to get lower in his stance and move inside. That will be an asset to the Irish this season if they have to deal with potential injuries on the line.
And despite the slew of responsibilities being thrown at Lombard, he seems to be taking Watt’s advice seriously.
“[Guard] is all about leverage,” Lombard said. “You don’t have to work in space as much. So you have to be quick and very explosive, and I think those are things that I have, but you’ve got to refine all that technique, and that’s what the spring is for.”
Still five months away from Notre Dame’s first game, Hiestand was hesitant to declare Lombard a starter but acknowledged he’s firmly in the mix.
“He’s established,” Hiestand said. “But it’s early in spring and the development of him and the rest of the guys, we’ll see what course that takes as we go, but we’re happy with the progress he’s making.”